Westminster Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Next steps for the Further Education sector in England - governance and finances, enhancing provision, and priorities for the FE White Paper

Morning, Tuesday, 13th October 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is bringing together key stakeholders and policy makers, with the DfE currently drafting a White Paper for further education.

The conference will also be an opportunity to discuss the recently-published Report of the independent review of college financial oversight conducted by Dame Mary Ney which recommends:

  • nurturing colleges on an individual basis - a shift from the current approach, to spot early signs of weakness in college finances
  • stronger and more proactive relationships - to be built with colleges from the start of this terms
  • introduction of new whistleblowing arrangements

The discussion at a glance:

  • COVID-19 - the experience and impact of the pandemic for colleges, immediate implications and priorities, and what can be learned and applied going forward
  • capital investment in the FE sector - priorities for the future
  • financial sustainability - and collaboration between colleges and the impact of mergers and interventions
  • managing change - restructuring colleges, the future of the merger process and supporting the FE workforce
  • decision-making - the autonomy that colleges have on decisions relating to tackling local skills gaps and the qualifications that they choose to offer
  • preparing for the future - FE and the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • FE and society - positioning colleges at the centre of their communities, and asserting their role in addressing local and national skills gaps

The discussion in detail:

The COVID-19 crisis

  • how colleges have adapted - maintaining provision during the pandemic
  • future delivery of teaching  - with a potential move to more online or blended learning
  • economic impact - the broader national industrial strategy and future skills gaps and in assisting young people in gaining employment
  • international students - potential implications of the likely reduction in numbers, particularly in the short term
  • T Levels - initial implementation, with some colleges choosing to pause their implementation this September, and others preparing to teach the new qualifications from this September

Finance and collaboration

  • financial resilience and quality - the government approach to supporting colleges and intervening to support improvment
  • use of increased funding - how new investment by government is being used by colleges, and how to maximise its impact going forward
  • collaboration - ways that colleges are effectively working together, particularly in overcoming funding pressures and to improve provision
  • financial planning - in light of capital investment commitments by the Government, how colleges can develop effective plans to ensure that the money is spent effectively

Mergers and oversight

  • college governance - potential models, with suggestions that some colleges might be brought under state control
  • oversight measures - designed to improve the sustainability of the sector, with discussion on how colleges are adapting
  • mergers - the future of the merger process and whether structural changes resulting from area reviews have led to a more robust and sustainable college sector and improved learning experience
  • FE Commissioner actions - assessing steps taken, such as structure and prospects appraisals (SPAs), in evaluating merger proposals and what can be learnt from the initial area review process


  • Skills and support - priorities for supporting the FE workforce and ensuring appropriate levels of expertise
  • recruitment and retention of future leaders

Contribution to the community and local economy

  • colleges as anchor institutions for their local communities - how to cement their position, with Government recently urging colleges to engage with the £3.6bn Towns Fund in their local area
  • Institutes of Technology - their development to deliver technical education, with the second wave of competition launching later in the year aiming to ensure they cover all parts of England
  • meeting local need -  - the development of specialist colleges to meet the needs of local economies and what local communities and employers should be able to expect from colleges
  • local business engagement - strategies for improving connections and collaboration between colleges and local businesses
  • the levelling up policy agenda - the role colleges can play in tackling regional inequalities and improving local productivity through providing an effective lifelong learning service
  • FE colleges and HE - developing the relationship including the future balance of funding and discussion on which sector should be providing which courses

A scan of key developments:

  • FE White Paper - expected publication by the Department for Education, with a focus on funding, skills and qualifications, institutional autonomy, developing a nationally collaborative but regionally focussed approach to FE across England, the workforce and careers
  • Colleges to receive £200 million to transform their buildings - the recent announcement that £200m will be brought forward for urgent repairs in 2020/21
  • the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs - including the recent announcement of £111m in funding for traineeships
  • Multi-million-pound fund to boost standards across the FE sector  - government commitment to funding for the sector with the aim of strengthening leadership and governance across FE through:
    • introduction of the College collaboration fund (CCF) to support colleges working together to boost the quality of education and training on offer
    • investment in tailored CPD for college leaders and governors across a range of areas
  • Budget 2020 - which included commitments from Government including:
    • the introduction of a £600m-a-year National Skills Fund
    • a commitment of £1.8bn for capital investment in the FE estate,

The agenda:

  • An overview of the current FE landscape
  • Where will the DfE white paper take the college and FE sector?
  • Improving the oversight of colleges and adapting to the new insolvency regime - mergers, restructuring and sources of funding
  • Understanding the context for the White Paper
  • Further education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Enhancing FE provision in colleges - curriculum, online delivery, careers advice, links with employers, routes into HE, and learning from the impact of the pandemic
  • The College of the Future - latest findings from the Independent Commission

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one is no different. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Education; the Cabinet Office; the National Audit Office; the DCMS; the Department for International Trade; Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service; the Home Office; the Ministry of Justice; and the Welsh Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Paul McKean

Head of Further Education and Skills, Jisc

Keynote Speakers

Lewis Cooper

Director, Independent Commission on the College of the Future

Paul McKean

Head of Further Education and Skills, Jisc

David Hughes

Chief Executive Officer, Association of Colleges

Professor Martin Doel

FETL Professor of Leadership in FE and Skills, University College London

David Gallagher

Chief Executive Officer, NCFE


Toby Perkins MP

Shadow Minister for Apprentices and Lifelong Learning


Shelagh Legrave

Chief Executive Officer, Chichester College Group

Professor Liz Atkins

Professor of Vocational Education and Social Justice, Institute of Education, University of Derby

Senior speaker confirmed from OCR

Stefan Drew

Education Consultant and Former College Marketing Director

Stephanie Mason

Partner, RSM UK

Jon Brookes

Social Value Lead, Wates Group Services

Louise Misselke

Principal, Guernsey College